Yesterday I wrote about world building because I was stuck on my WIP. I thought world building was my problem but it wasn't. I wasn't listening to my characters.
I'm writing a murder mystery and the problem was that I couldn't get my sleuth to talk.
I'd written practically all the murderer's scenes up to the midpoint and had a good outline for where I would go after that, but I was nervous because I'd only written one scene with the sleuth and that scene was mediocre.
I loved my murderer with all his flaws, I felt I knew him. He was the hero of his own story, but he'd made some bad decisions. The sleuth, on the other hand, hid behind a veil. I couldn't reach him, couldn't understand him.
It was a problem, especially since I have a schedule and a daily word count and I just can't afford this thing called 'being blocked'.
I woke up this morning, started reading, and BAM! it hit me: I needed to write the sleuth's scenes through another character's eyes. I needed a Watson. A Hastings. When I figured that out I could write. It was like a damn burst.
So, here's my take away from this experience:
Listen to your characters
When I'm blocked on a story I'm blocked for a reason.
In this instance, I hadn't taken the time to be still and listen to the sleuth. After I started writing again the sleuth told me things about himself that surprised me. I had completely missed one of his most important characteristics: his anger over a great loss he suffered. Not sadness, anger.
Then it made sense.
I've talked about listening to your characters. There are many, many, writing exercises you could do to help with this, but here's the one I did:
I added a POV character, the sleuth's sidekick, and then chose a scene. I chose one that involved something the sidekick had to do, and started to write. At some point I started to see her, her red hair, her white freckled skin, her long fingers as she slid them along the polished mahogany of the spiral staircase.
And then she was in a room with him, with my sleuth, and they were arguing. She was saying all those things to him she'd kept bottled up ... and it turned out to be a great scene that was fun to write. And I was surprised by a couple of things the characters said, things that made perfect sense once I'd written them down, but I had no thought of them before the exercise.
Writing is kinda magical. And cool. Very cool.
If you've had writers block in the past, what have you done to get over it and get back writing?
Photo credit: "g wie grashalme" by fRedi under Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic.